Profile Picture

Social Innovation Podcast (New Media Series) – Episode 10 – Tara McDermott – IOM X – Engaging With Young People Was a Priority

Michael Waitze talks to Tara Dermott about how IOM X is using media to support safe migration experiences and stop trafficking and the exploitation of the vulnerable.

Originally from the USA, Tara Dermott moved to Thailand as a Peace Corp volunteer 14 years ago. Stationed in the Northeast of Thailand near the Cambodian border, Tara learned about issues related to migration, leading her to work at IOM X as the program leader.

IOMX is an off-shoot IOM (International Organisation for Migration), which is the UN’s migration agency dedicated to humane and orderly migration, providing services and advice to both governments and migrants. In partnership with USAID, IOM X creates innovative campaigns to encourage safe migration and public action to stop exploitation and human trafficking.

One of the problems is, according to Tara, people tend to deny the existence of such migrant exploitation where they live. Its treated as someone else’s problem, so IOM X works to demonstrate what human trafficking and exploitation actually look like. 

She explains the approach of IOM X and how it uses Communication for Development (C4D), which draws on the fields of sociology, psychology, communication, and marketing to impact attitudes and behaviours.

Young people are moving away from traditional media yet are the main targets of trafficking and the most likely to engage in migration, so IOM X studies how their target audience is engaging with new media and then develops campaigns aligned with their online behaviour.

The organization has made a vast range of short videos related to exploitation, trafficking, the fair treatment of migrant workers and safe migration that are circulated across social media platforms such as Youtube and Facebook. Storytelling and drama, Tara explains, is a powerful medium to engage, inspire and influence the attitudes and behaviour of their target audience. One video went viral and raked in over 170 million views.

Target countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines are in the top 10 countries of most time spent online – often on sites like YouTube, but cutting through the noise on the internet and social media noise is a challenge, so IOMX partnered with Google Thailand to identify and work with Youtube stars to empower young Thais to understand exploitation in the manufacturing sector and make more informed consumer decisions.

Based on IOMX’s immense experiences in deploying communication for behavioural and social change, they have developed a resource portal for educators, students and practitioners seeking to use C4D to support migrants and address other pressing social issues.

You can access IOM X’s resources here.